In bodybuilding training , there are some techniques that you may not have known about. The objective of these methods is to give a different approach to training, surprise the muscle or make the series more complicated. There are intensity techniques  for beginner, intermediate and advanced users. Some of them are the super series, the weight drops, the curl 21 or the partial routes. Learn how to apply them.

Before moving on to the techniques, let's review the principles of bodybuilding workouts . 

How are professional bodybuilding workouts

The beauty of bodybuilding is that there is no one way to get things done. All diets and exercise routines can work for you if they are based on solid principles , you like them and they adapt to your lifestyle. A popular part of training is the intensity techniques in bodybuilding . They are the aforementioned techniques "drop sets", pauses, isometrics, forced repetitions, partial series, pyramid series, giant series, etc.

Surely a question arises: is it necessary to use many high intensity methods in your bodybuilding program?

At Depor Trainer , we always bet on the  basic principles to achieve effective programming focused on muscle development:

  • • Progressive overload with a wide range of repetitions.
  • • Do the exercise with perfect form at all times.
  • • Employ exercises that work well for your body type.

 professional bodybuilder workouts

With these bodybuilder tips in mind, we've always prioritized keeping workouts as simple as possible to achieve the results we want, rather than tweaking the plan. Remember that intensity techniques for bodybuilding are fine, but they shouldn't be your priority, especially if you're a beginner. In fact, the order of importance of the things that you should take into account to train would be the following:

1. Get stronger using big compound lifts.

2. Get stronger with isolation exercises.

3. Use intensity techniques in your bodybuilding training.

If a bodybuilder hasn't squeezed enough out of steps one and two, it's unlikely he should include intensity methods in his program. The problem we see in most men is that they are so motivated that they think pain equals muscle growth. So they misuse intensity techniques every week.

Now, don't take this as telling you not to train hard. You definitely should. However, you have to train within your recovery limits. Especially if you're a natural athlete with average genes, as most of us are.

Really good personal trainers offer a first bodybuilder's tip: ditch the intensity methods. When a beginner does an intensity technique for several weeks, he may find it increasingly difficult to recover. Injuries will accumulate and the athlete will burn out from training permanently. 

We do not mean to say that intense techniques are bad in bodybuilding training . Some systems are quite effective. However, do not abuse the method, as doing so could delay the results. The conclusion is that  training techniques are not bad, but you have to know when and how to use them. 

Intensity techniques in bodybuilding training

No matter how old you are when you train, you should always try to intensify each rep of the set. You will improve the mind-muscle connection, weight control and safety in your training. If things get a little trickier, there are a few 'shortcuts'. As we said, these can be easily misused. For your training, here are some techniques. These can be applied to  bodybuilding training for women and men , interchangeably.

The watch

Rejo technique in advanced bodybuilding

It is very easy to do this technique. Normally, it is carried out with a training partner. Pick a weight that you could do 10-12 reps to failure with. Let's take as an example that we will use a Z bar to do the biceps curl. 

We grab the bar and do 1 repetition. Then, we will give the bar to the partner and he will do 1 repetition. Then, the partner will return the bar to us so that we can do 2 repetitions. Then, we will give you the bar again to perform 2 repetitions. He will return the bar to us again to continue with 3 repetitions... As you can guess, it will be a cycle in which we will give the bar to each other to do one more repetition in each series. We can go up to 10 repetitions, for example. We will do it as follows:


If we feel strong, we can do it again in the descending sense:


This bodybuilding technique is based on the principle of muscle recovery . Our muscles stop exerting force when phosphocreatine is depleted , but creatine is also recovered very quickly (in a few seconds). Training with your partner with the intervals proposed by the clock  allows us to do up to 55 repetitions with a weight that we could only move 10 times in the conventional way. Therefore, this bodybuilding training increases the volume of work and muscle gain. It can be done with any gym equipment (bars, dumbbells, machines...). It is a style of sarcoplasmic training for bodybuilding (increases the volume of muscle cells).

Drop Set technique

"Drop-Sets" are advanced bodybuilding training techniques

It is one of the most famous advanced systems in  professional bodybuilding training . You start by doing a set until you approach muscle failure with a given weight. Immediately, you pick up a weight that's 15-20% lighter and continue doing reps (again, to or near failure). Then, you pick up another weight 15 or 20% less and continue doing repetitions until failure. 

Up to two weight drops are usually done with this system, which allows the series to be extended well beyond muscular failure. You can start, for example, with a weight that allows you to do 8 or 10 repetitions. When you finish them, you go on to do the "Drop Sets".

Drop sets work great with exercises like leg extensions, hamstring curls, biceps curls, and lateral raises as the last set to increase time under tension. Nothing is required. You only have to use 2-3 descenders in your last set and go to failure. If you want, you can even finish your "Drop Sets" with partial repetitions. If you're going to be doing this technique on exercises like the barbell bench press, it's best to have a partner remove the plates quickly between sets.

Negative series in bodybuilding

Negative repetitions, advanced bodybuilding techniques

This technique must be done carefully, as it has its risks, but it is effective for gaining muscle volume and even strength. There are two ways to do it. Every bodybuilding exercise has two parts: a concentric phase, where you raise the weight; and an eccentric phase, where you lower the load. The negative series consists of using a weight that you cannot control for the concentric phase (you cannot lift it), but you can hold it in the eccentric (negative) phase. We are all much stronger holding the weights than lifting them. This is the basis of the principle of negative series.

Of course, to apply this bodybuilding training system, you need a partner . The technique will be done as follows. You will put on a little more weight than the maximum that you could handle. Your partner will grab the weight, bar, machine or pulley and fully help you up the load (apply 100% of his force so you don't have to do anything in the concentric phase). You will concentrate on doing only the eccentric phase while holding the load . Ideally, you should support the weight drop for about 5 seconds. About 4 or 5 negative reps are fine. Don't do too many because you could injure yourself.

Let's look at the two ways to do bodybuilding drop sets:

• After reaching failure : You will choose a weight that you can lift on your own for a few repetitions (for example, 4 or 5). When you're out of strength, your partner will fully lift the weight with his hands so you can do a few more negative reps.

• At the beginning of the set : In this case, you will prepare a weight that you cannot lift (you would not be able to do a single repetition alone). It will be a few kilos more than your 1 RM (do not go too far). From the first repetition, your partner will fully assist you in lifting the weight. You will do 4 or 5 negative repetitions.

The negatives are very demanding repetitions, so it is better to do them at the beginning of your training and not at the end. You will prevent injuries. Don't abuse them or do them often either. You should not confuse this system with the brushed repetitions that we will see below. In the forced repetitions you must be able to lift the weight by yourself.

Forced repetitions, intensity technique in bodybuilding

Forced repetitions should be done on the last set of an exercise. You have to use a weight that can be lifted well for several repetitions. When we reach muscular failure or the technique begins to be incorrect, our partner will touch the weight and help us just enough to complete a few more repetitions (3 or 4). 

Remember that a forced repetition is not a refusal . In this case, the help of your partner has to be minimal so that you do most of the work in the concentric phase of the movement. It's not about him moving all the weight.

Several studies mention that forced repetitions can triple the production of growth hormone, which is very important for muscle growth. It is a very demanding technique, so do not abuse it in your bodybuilding routine either . Excessive forced reps could lead to overtraining and injury.

Supersets and trisets for bodybuilding routine

Supersets in bodybuilding training

It is perhaps the most famous technique in  professional bodybuilding training . It consists of doing two exercises in a row  (superseries ), which can be from the same muscle group or from antagonistic muscles. For example, two chest sets or one chest set and one back set.

You'll need to use less weight than usual to perform supersets, as the exercise takes longer than usual and requires more energy. Let's see examples of supersets for bodybuilding training .

• The same muscle group : bench press x 10 repetitions + opening with dumbbells x 12 repetitions (there is no need to rest between one series and another)

• Antagonistic muscles : biceps curl x 15 repetitions + French press x 15 repetitions

The concept is easy to understand. Supersets also allow us to save time and finish our training earlier, since we combine two exercises into one. They are perfect for working antagonistic muscle groups together. For example, chest and back, shoulders and back, biceps and triceps or quadriceps and hamstrings. Remember that in a superset of antagonistic muscles, the second muscle will have more force due to the reflex effect. So you want to alternate the order in which each muscle starts in supersets.

And what are the triseries?  They are very similar. In this case, three exercises are done in a row in a single training series. The exercises can also be for the same muscle group or antagonists.

Examples of triseries:

•  The same muscle group : lateral raises x 15 + front raises x 15 + shoulder birds x 15

•  Antagonist muscles : leg press x 12 + lying hamstring curl x 12 + quadriceps extensions on machine x 12

These techniques are excellent for muscle pumping and growth. Use them when you are more advanced.

Giant sets

Giant Series Bodybuilding Technique

These are a progression from the supersets and trisets. In this case, four exercises or more are done in a single series. It is a very physically demanding method.

•  Giant set example : pull-ups x 12 + military press x 12 + dumbbell row x 15 + dumbbell shoulder press x 12

Performed with high repetitions and without rest, all these compound series can be used to increase caloric expenditure, lose weight and define muscles. Many trainers recommend compound sets in bodybuilding training for definition .

Partial repetitions

 Principle of partial repetitions in bodybuilding training

This technique is also very hard and takes the training series beyond muscular failure. It consists of continuing to do repetitions with half a run when you have already failed the main series. You can do it in a variety of exercises: quadriceps extensions, back pulldowns, Gironda rows, shoulder raises, biceps curls... Do partials until you can't even move the muscle anymore. You will get an impressive congestion .

This advanced bodybuilding technique has been used by great bodybuilders like Tom Platz , who had amazing legs. Platz used them in his leg workouts for exercises like squats, leg presses, or quadriceps extensions. He called them "baby reps"  and they helped him get some of the biggest legs in bodybuilding history.

"Rest-Paused" method

It is another of our favorite training methods and especially recommended for the  natural bodybuilding routine . You can really get a lot out of this intensity technique. It is especially good for intermediate and advanced users. This method allows you to really measure your progress week by week.

It is about performing several series until failure resting from 10 to 30 seconds between each one. There are two styles to do "Rest-Paused" :

• DoggCrapp System : Here, you'll do three sets to failure with a 30-second rest in between. At each rest, you will take 10 deep breaths. Obviously, you will do fewer reps on consecutive sets. For example, it could be 12, 8, and 4 reps. 

• Muscle Rounds : This method was popularized by Scott Stevenson. As a load, you'll need to use your 15RM (more or less, 65% of your one rep max). It consists of doing 6 series of 4 repetitions with that weight. Between each series, you will rest 10 seconds. Works great for hard training your legs with compound exercises.

It is "Rest-Paused" is one of the best training techniques for hypertrophy . This system is also called "cluster" series .


Back-Off Set in professional bodybuilding workouts

The "Back-Off-Set" is to do one more series with less weight than before at the end of an exercise. We all know that, in professional bodybuilding training , pyramid sets of more to less repetitions are often done for an exercise. For example, 15, 12, 10 and 6 repetitions.

The last set of an exercise is usually the heaviest and ends with 8 or 6 repetitions. The "Back-Off-Set" consists of returning to a previous weight (lighter) and doing another series of 12 or 15 repetitions (for example). Many bodybuilders have done this intuitively without realizing it, even if we didn't know the technique. When you do the "Back-Off", you come home with the pleasant feeling of having pumped up and having left a job well done in the gym.

Pre-exhaustion bodybuilder training

Pre-exhaustion techniques for bodybuilders

Perform a series of isolation exercises for the muscle group you want to work, followed by a compound movement without rest. For example, do a dumbbell fly followed by a barbell bench press. This will fatigue the target muscles and make your work that much harder.

A variant of this is the giant pre-sold-out series. This works well for the triceps, shoulders, and chest. This variation takes the triceps to the extreme and trains the shoulders hard.

  • • Begin with an isolation exercise for the triceps muscle, such as push-ups.
  • • Choose an overhead press that trains the triceps and shoulders.
  • • Next, from a lying position, do a bench press that works the triceps, shoulders and chest.

Each progressive series allows you to continue helping a different muscle group. Do you want another example for legs? Start with a hamstring curl, which isolates the hamstrings; then move on to the Romanian deadlift, which works the hamstrings and glutes; then move on to lunges, which work the hamstrings, glutes, and quads.

The concept of pre- exhaustion can be applied to all bodybuilding training . If you want to train the triceps more, do them first and then the chest. You can limit your chest workout, but your triceps will work much harder when you do the chest exercise first. This can apply to the biceps and back, shoulders and chest, or calves and thighs.

Cheated reps

 "Cheated-Sets" en culturismo

At the end of the set, when you can't do any more reps with good technique, use a little body movement or momentum to lift the weight above the sticking point. For example, swing the weight slightly when you start a dumbbell curl. This technique is known as "Cheat Reps" .

- Don't cheat too much in your training, otherwise you might get injured.

-Cheat only to make your muscles work more, not to make the exercise easier.

Jump sets

 "Jump-Sets" for bodybuilding training

Jump-Sets are a way to do a large number of heavy sets for various muscle groups without losing as much strength from set to set. For example, if you are going to do 5 sets of pull-ups and 5 sets of bench press, start with 3 sets of pull-ups; then 3 sets of bench press. Then come back and do the remaining 2 sets of pull-ups and 2 sets of bench press. The extra rest will allow you to be stronger than usual in the last two sets .

Jumping between opposing muscle groups also appears to benefit strength. You can also do a roundtrip in each set, instead of in a group set. However, this is not a superset, although it improves recovery by relaxing more parts of the body during the same exercise. It allows you to load more weights in each exercise.

Jump sets are best used with opposing body parts, such as your back and chest, biceps and triceps, or hamstrings and quads.

Target Rep Training

Set a certain number of repetitions and set a goal to reach those repetitions, regardless of the number of sets you need to achieve it. For example, we will do pull-ups:

Aim to do 50 repetitions for pull-ups. Let's say you get 30 reps on the first set.
For the second set, let's say you hit 10 reps.
Rest well.
Do 5 repetitions.
Rest well.
Do 3 repetitions.
Rest well.
Do 2 repetitions.


There is a second version of these training techniques in the gym . It consists of applying a time reduction . The rest period between sets will be the number of repetitions you have left to reach your goal.

For example, your goal is 50 repetitions. You will do 30 repetitions and your rest period will be 20 seconds (because now you will have 20 repetitions to go). On the next set, you do 10 reps. Now, you have 10 reps left to complete, so you'll rest for 10 seconds and start over. You do 4 repetitions. So you have 6 more left; rest 6 seconds.

Reps with pause

Pause for a couple of seconds at the end of the concentric phase of an exercise. For example, in the bench press, hold the bar for two seconds when it touches your chest, then bring it back up. This technique is used by powerlifters to gain strength, but bodybuilders can also take advantage of it to increase the intensity of their workouts. Use these  techniques to increase muscle volume by making the muscle take charge of moving the weight 100%, without rebounds or inertia.

Curl 21

Barbell biceps curl 21 in Ronnie Coleman's routine

We will have seen this technique thousands of times in Ronnie Coleman's routine . Carried out for the Z-bar bicep curl. Load the bar with a weight that you can control well.

  • • Do 7 partial repetitions from arm extension to mid-range in the biceps curl.
  • • Do another 7 splits from the middle of the course to the biceps contraction at the top of the movement.
  • • Now do 7 full reps of the barbell biceps curl.

In total, curl 21 has 21 repetitions. There are 14 partial and 7 complete. Use it to pump your biceps to the maximum. This technique is typically used in the barbell curl, although you may be able to apply it to more exercises.

Heavy holding in bodybuilding training

Holding the weight in bench press, isometric technique of bodybuilding

Simply, you have to keep the weight in the blocking position of the exercise for as long as possible. An example could be standing with a heavy weight on your back. This would be the starting position of the squat. It is best to do this in compound movements, such as bench presses, squats, deadlifts, dips, shoulder presses, etc. because you can hold the weight well.

It is good to apply these  strength training techniques because they strengthen connective tissue, increase muscle density and the confidence to handle heavy weights. Once you have thousands of pounds on your back, the squat with three 20 plates a side won't be as scary anymore.

Slow reps

Bodybuilding technique to do the slow repetitions

Among the  tips of professional bodybuilders , you will find this method. Apply it to complicate your  bodybuilding volume training . It consists of doing the negative repetitions of the exercise slowly. It will take between 4 and 6 seconds to lower the weight. This will greatly increase muscle pain. You will see! Other people slowly do the concentric repetition too, but that's already crazy!

Reverse sets and reps

It's a simple method that can definitely change the way you feel about exercising. In this plan, instead of doing the traditional 3 sets of 8 reps or 2 sets of 12 reps, the numbers are reversed: you'll do 8 sets of 3 reps or 12 sets of 2 reps . The volume (total number of repetitions) remains the same, but as you reduce the number of repetitions per set, the weight used can (and should) be increased. You'll increase the total amount of work done, which is usually a good thing. This is primarily a strength technique , but can also be used to increase size and work capacity.

The system has some advantages. It's a nice change of pace for people who don't lift much weight. For example, if you always use lighter weights and higher reps when training your triceps, this change will force you to do the same exercise with more weight, which can be a nice surprise for your body. It can also help you become more confident in your lifts. When you return to your original program, the weight will feel much lighter.

The two biggest drawbacks of this program are that it is time consuming and that it is not suitable for all exercises . It takes time to complete multiple sets because rest is important and some people find repeating the same activity boring. Also, some exercises, i.e. the smaller analytical movements, do not adapt as well to a low number of repetitions. For example, 2 sets of 12 reps on the triceps extension may not be enough even if the load feels heavy.


• Back Pulldown : 40 kg in 8 series of 3 repetitions, instead of 60 kg in 3 series of 8 repetitions.
• Dumbbell Row : 50kg for 6 sets of 2 reps, instead of 30kg for 2 sets of 6.
•  Dumbbell Curl : 24kg for 10 sets of 3 reps, instead of 14kg for 3 sets of 10 reps .

How to apply advanced bodybuilding techniques according to your level of training

To get the most out of the above methods, you don't need to use them all at once or use them every time you train, but rather strategically. For example, you could have a crash day once a month (or a crash week every two months) to use some or all of these techniques. You can also only use them for a limited time with each exercise, or work only with a few selected exercises.

It really depends on you. Have fun with them, work hard, set a PR, and see if progress doesn't go your way. Also, remember that it will be more or less convenient for you to use the intensity techniques depending on your level of experience. Old  school bodybuilding training should always come first.


Bodybuilding techniques for beginners

For the most beginners, you never have to apply the techniques of an  advanced bodybuilding routine . If you are new to the practice, focus on improving your technique and increasing the weight of the bar. Nothing else matters at this stage. Adding intensity methods will only slow your progress in the novice stage, because it takes focus away from the most important factor in muscle growth: progressive overload in its full form.

Also, because your technique isn't very stable when you're new, you won't be able to maintain tension during periods of extreme fatigue and may risk injury.


Intensity Techniques for Intermediate Bodybuilding Users

If you're an intermediate powerlifter, always ask yourself first why you want to apply high-intensity bodybuilding training . Why are you adding intensity methods to your routine? Are you really tired of progressing through the normal series or are you looking for a magic wand?

In most cases, you could probably take advantage of the basic progression systems for much longer than you think. However, we're not opposed to adding some technique from time to time to pump up and increase the metabolic load on the muscles .

If you're in the intermediate range, you probably already have a solid foundation of strength and muscle. Therefore, you can benefit from high rep volumes and pump training to further develop your body. In addition to adding some higher rep sets, you can also play around with intensity techniques when doing isolation exercises, such as curls, triceps dips, lateral raises, leg extensions, and hamstring curls. Choose one exercise for each set and use any intensity technique on the last set; you don't need to exaggerate here.


 advanced bodybuilding techniques

Once you've trained hard and progressively for at least 5-7 years with old school bodybuilding training , you may want to consider new strategies.

When you're advanced, progressive overload is harder to achieve, so using new and innovative training approaches can help you stay engaged both physiologically and psychologically. It can also help you improve longevity, which becomes important when you reach a certain level of strength or have sustained an injury.

In these situations, it is preferable to use techniques such as "boosting" and "volumizing" in a set. By "bracing" we mean using any technique that makes the repetition more difficult in some way. As they say, "make a light weight feel heavy". This includes pausing in difficult positions, slow eccentric movements, and the use of mechanically disadvantageous holds or stances.

High intensity bodybuilding techniques are used to protect joints and prevent injury. They are applied as an alternative to putting more weight on the bar. For example, do a controlled negative repetition.

We'd venture to say that regardless of how long you've been training, you should always aim to intensify each rep of each set. You will improve your mind-muscle connection, your control over weight and the security in your training. It's one of the  bodybuilding secrets that still works to this day. Any  natural bodybuilding school will tell you that the best way to progress is to train for more years without injuries that stop your progress.

There is no  best bodybuilding training system . As you have seen today, there are many ways to reach the same results. If you're just starting out, you should focus first and foremost on lifting heavy. However, as time passes, you'll want to have various bodybuilding training techniques on hand  because you won't always be able to add pounds to the bar as easily (but you'll want to keep making progress). How is your experience with these advanced methods? We look forward to coming back with more  advice from professional bodybuilders in future articles. Thanks for being here!

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